In the heart of Romania, Transylvania stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of history and heritage. This captivating region draws travelers with its timeless allure, offering a glimpse into a world where the past seamlessly intertwines with the present. Central to Transylvania’s charm are its remarkable architectural treasures: castles and fortified churches that punctuate the landscape, each a testament to the region’s rich and storied past. These ancient structures, with their weathered walls and imposing facades, stand as silent witnesses to the tumultuous events that have shaped the course of history in this land. As visitors wander through the winding corridors and crumbling battlements, they are transported back in time, surrounded by the echoes of centuries gone by. Join us on a journey through the soul-stirring vibe of Transylvania, where the majesty of its historical monuments awaits exploration and discovery.

Let’s discover the castles that you should include in your itinerary while you visit Transylvania.

 

1 – Bran aka Dracula’s Castle

Bran Castle in fall

This castle stands as the most renowned Romanian fortress globally, serving as the cornerstone of Transylvania’s association with the legendary Count Dracula and vampires.
While Bran Castle is often associated with the Dracula legend, historically, it has no direct connection to Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind the fictional character. Despite its fame as “Dracula’s Castle,” Bran Castle’s true history and architectural significance lie in its medieval origins and its role as a strategic fortress in Transylvania.

Brief history
The castle was built in the 13th hundreds and it was protecting the border of Transylvania.
It was offered to Queen Maria in 1920 by the the Brasov council. She decorated the rooms and made it into a beautiful home for her and her daughter Princess Ileana.

The myth
Bran castle strongly resembles the description of the castle in Bram Stocker’s Count Dracula even though the author never actually visited Transylvania.

The experience
Visiting Bran Castle allows you to immerse yourself in its rich history while also enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding Carpathian mountains You will walk on enchanting stairways and go though secret passages. You will admire the old furniture and weapons that were used throughout the 14th all the way up to the 19th century. For more

Cons
It can get pretty busy especially during the summer so waiting time is something to take into account.
Some of the other attractions around the area might be aggressively marketed to extend the experience, so it’s advisable to read reviews beforehand to ensure they align with your interests. These additional attractions may include shows or access to other sites that require separate purchases.

 

2 – Peles Castle

Best visited while on the way from Bucharest to Brasov, as you pass through Sinaia in the Bucegi Mountains. Peles Castle was the summer residence of the royal family until 1947 and it is also one of the most impressive in Europe.

Fun fact
Peles was the first Castle in Europe to switch to electricity and the first movie projection in Romania happened in the Theater Room in 1906.

The experience
In order to get to the castle you will walk on a stone path admiring the surrounding nature. The tour will take you through its 160 rooms, where you can find a stunning display of European artistry, featuring Murano crystal chandeliers or intricate German stained-glass windows.
You can also take a walk outside the castle and admire its new-Renaissance architecture and courtyard.

Cons
Sinaia’s popularity means it gets crowded, and the many gift shops along the way can detract from the atmosphere.

 

3 – Corvin Castle

Transylvania Hunedoara Corvin Castle P1060130 Copy

Built under the patronage of the Anjou family, Corvin Castle stands as a prime example of Gothic architecture in Romania.

Brief history
Originally constructed as a fortress, Corvin Castle later became the residence of Transylvania’s ruler, Iancu de Hunedoara, in the mid-14th century. Iancu oversaw extensive renovations, transforming the fortress into the magnificent castle that stands today.

Legends
During your visit, you will hear legends about the castle and learn why the family is named Corvin. It comes from the Latin word “corvus,” which means “raven.”

The experience
You will walk on a large drawbridge first thing of your visit. Besides admiring the architectural features you will have plenty to explore such as inner courtyards, a chapel, and approximately 50 rooms adorned with exquisite medieval artwork.

Cons
While the exterior of the building is impressive inside it is rather empty. The rooms are not full of furniture like in Bran castle for instance but it is still worth a visit just for the walking.

 

4 – Banffy Castle

It stands as an emblem of revival, representing the essence of Transylvanian identity—a haven for both contemporary cultural expression and the preservation of traditional craftsmanship.

Brief history
Despite enduring the ravages of the Second World War and the stifling grip of communism, this historic edifice has been meticulously restored and rejuvenated by the Transylvania Trust. The Bonțida Domain, dating back to 1263, was granted to the Bánffy family by King Sigismund of Luxembourg in 1387. It remained under their ownership until it was nationalized.

The experience
Over the years, the castle fell into disrepair, with various parts of the compound serving different purposes. Today, it remains largely in ruins and requires extensive restoration. Each year, restoration camps are held, allowing people to participate in its preservation efforts.

 

5 – Cantacuzino Castle

Built-in the neo-Romanian style, the castle is surrounded by a park with pathways leading to waterfalls, artesian wells, and a grotto. The building, constructed of stone and brick according to the plans of architect Grigore Cerchez, covers an area of 3148 square meters.

Brief history
The Cantacuzino Castle in Bușteni was commissioned in 1911 by Prince Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino (Nababul), a former minister of Romania between 1899-1900, 1904-1907.

The experience
Remarkable in terms of scale, the castle compares to other buildings constructed in the Neo-Brâncovenesc style, such as the Peleș complex in Sinaia.
You will admire the decorative repertoire that lends a distinctly romantic atmosphere to the interior. Stained glass windows, stucco marble, consoles, ceilings with exposed and painted beams, wooden, stone, or wrought iron balustrades, bronze cast and richly ornamented ironmongery represent a mastery of artistic craftsmanship.

 

6 – Karolyi Castle

The Károlyi Castle will undoubtedly impress you not only with the beauty of its architectural styles but also because it harbors a fascinating, lesser-known history within its walls.

Brief history
Built by the Károlyi family in Carei at the end of the 15th century, the castle has endured turbulent centuries and many transformations, yet no one has managed to bring it down. It is perhaps Romania’s best-preserved medieval building, worthy of a visit.

The experience
Today, the castle hosts a museum exhibition showcasing historical interiors, recreating the atmosphere of the castle’s past, as well as a local history exhibition.
You can admire wax figures that narrate the tale of the signing of the Peace of Satu Mare in 1711 and the visit of King Ferdinand, who, alongside Queen Maria, explored the city of Carei on May 25, 1919. You’ll have the opportunity to view taxidermy animals from South Africa, which are part of a hunting trophy collection.

 

7Bethlen-Haller Castle

With four towers positioned at the four corners, the castle was built following the model of those in the Loire Valley. It was conceived as a hunting and leisure castle, not as a defensive residence

Brief history
The Bethlen-Haller Castle was constructed in the Renaissance style by the father of the Transylvanian chancellor, Miklos Bethlen, between the years 1560 – 1624.
Over time, the castle underwent numerous transformations: the construction of the current building was completed in 1624, and between 1769-1773, it was renovated in the Baroque style.

The experience
It was renovated aiming to recreate the medieval atmosphere of yesteryear.
Besides visiting this castle guests have the option to have lunch, wine tasting or spend the night there. Over time, Bethlen-Haller Castle has become a cherished symbol of Jidvei wines.

 

8Teleky

The castle was built between 1772 and 1803, in a simpler Baroque style. Construction works were overseen by three generations of the Teleki family.

Brief History
Teleki Mihály (1634-1690) was granted Gernyeszeg and several other villages as a gift. The family descends from the ancient Garázda lineage. They were awarded their Coat of Arms, depicting an ibex leaping out of flames, by King Sigismund of Hungary in 1409. Teleki Mihály was one of the most influential politicians of his era in Transylvania and served as the chief advisor to Apaffy Mihály, the Regent of the country.

The experience
You arrive at the castle via the old drawbridge over the ditch. The structure, designed in Baroque style, bears some resemblance to other castles in the Budapest area, such as those in Gödöllö, Pecel, and Nagytétény.
It is known as the Grassalkowich style, characterized by its “U” shape, a prominent dome at the center, and a grand hall below for festivities.

 

9Castelul Bethlen Cris

The foundations of the Renaissance-style castle were laid in the 15th century by Bethlen Miklós’s son, Márk. The building and the circular bastion with a series of bas-reliefs representing archers were constructed around a square courtyard.

Brief history
In 1559, Bethlen György and his wife, Károlyi Klára, erected a rectangular-shaped structure adjacent to the donjon, featuring a vaulted gallery, and undertook renovations across sections of the castle. A monogram adorns a small window on the bastion, indicating the involvement of their son, Bethlen Mihály, in the construction endeavors. In 1675, Bethlen Elek fortified the castle with tall polygonal bastions at the enclosure’s corners. He authored the initial monograph of the Bethlen family. It was within these castle walls that Bethlen Farkas penned the historical chronicles of Transylvania.

The experience
You’ll ascend an open staircase adorned with a balustrade, guiding you to the primary entrance on the first floor. Prepare to be captivated by the castle’s splendor, showcasing one of Transylvania’s most stunning blends of Renaissance residential charm and defensive prowess. As you explore, you’ll encounter intriguing remnants of old Gothic design, particularly evident within the chapel’s walls.